By Sam Gray, Duty Officer for Colchester Museums
At Colchester + Ipswich Museums we try and find ways to minimise waste and recycle where possible. We already have good systems in place at Colchester Castle to manage a lot of our everyday waste, but sometimes we need to be creative when dealing with old, broken or larger electrical items. This is especially important after taking down exhibitions, upgrading our regular displays or replacing equipment that can’t be repaired.
Following some recent works, both to improve our staff area and upgrade some gallery interactives, we found ourselves with a rather odd assortment of hard-to-recycle items. We repurposed or rehomed what we could and, in the past, we’ve had success donating usable items to local charity shops (many of whom have excellent systems in place to utilise ‘unsellable’ things). Even after all this, we still had bits remaining.
One of our team suggested contacting Urban Xtreme, which is a newer business in Colchester, with the title of being Essex’s “only Rage Room”. I learned that a Rage Room is an experience where you can smash and break old and broken objects in a safe environment. Sounded like a great time to me, and an interesting way to release stress!
We originally reached out to see if they take donations and ask the type of things they’d accept. After speaking to their team we arranged a visit to the Castle to find out more about them. The lovely Rob came to see us and explained how their process works. Urban Xtreme collect electricals that are broken, along with other things such as larger plastic items or old crockery. They have strong working relationships in the Colchester community e.g. working closely with a local charity to take items that fail PAT testing after donation. Members of the team collect these unwanted items for free and bring them to their venue, where they’re used to dress rooms for customers to then break.
Once the customer experience is over, the smashed items are passed to a local recycling business to be separated into the various materials and recycled. From talking to Urban Xtreme, we learned a lot about ways to recycle beyond just taking items to a refuse centre. My personal highlight was finding out about the company that takes smashed pieces of crockery and creates new bricks!
Following our meeting, we decided to donate a range of broken items including uplighters, display stands, monitors and tv screens, a bag of damaged crockery and even some of our old metal lockers.
We’re really excited to be able to support a local business, especially one that has strong green policies in place. The idea our broken equipment could go on to have another purpose, although not one we ever imagined, and still get recycled in the end was what made the decision for us. One day soon, I may even go to the Rage Room and see if I can spot something from the museum!